Doing what's right for customers is an easy concept to understand but fairly difficult to implement. Listening to them, anticipating their needs, and providing tailored service where and when they need it can be challenging to put into practice.
Last week I traveled to Vegas for work and in the hour of down time I had between the end of the conference and arriving at the airport, I stopped at a shop to buy a gift for my husband. Because I was using my card in Vegas, my bank detected unusual activity and turned it off. That's great that the company was being proactive in protecting me from a potentially fraudulent situation, but the company gave me no notice. Instead the bank should have notified me by phone or text that it detected unusual activity before turning off the card.
Then when I returned to Connecticut, a representative for the bank should have contacted me to remind me the company deactivated the card, verify my recent purchases were in fact mine, and then offer to reactivate the card.
That's not what happened.
I had to take it upon myself to call customer service where I was put on hold for 10 minutes while the representative transferred me to the card activation center. My card ultimately was reactivated, but the experience wasn't optimal, and instead was an annoying inconvenience.
Sometimes companies can implement all the monitoring capabilities and predictive tools that they want, but without a common sense approach to helping customers through proactive outreach, the tools are inconsequential.
As Judith Aquino points out in today's feature, "The Human Element Still Has Merit," technology can't solve all customer service issues. "When it comes to offering empathy or finding intuitive solutions to complex problems, a human worker still beats artificial intelligence," she said.
There's no doubt that technology is helping to provide key advantages to businesses in engendering customer loyalty by improving customer service, but I believe that the pendulum has swung so far to the technology side of service that we've forgotten how to be human. Physicians, airlines, and even banks have gotten adept at automating alerts for appointments, airplane departures, and general account information, but when there's a need for human interaction along the customer journey, it's often missing from the experience.
It's time to bring it back.